Case Study: Bridging the Hybrid Learning Gap
The University of Insurbia implemented a solution from Kramer AV to deliver seamless, integrated teaching experiences across three campuses.
Located in the Italian cities of Como and Varese, the University of Insurbia caters to a student body of over 12,000 who are supported by 400 faculty members, and 320 technical and administrative personnel across seven departments.
After receiving funding from the Lombardy Regional Council, the university teamed up with AV/ ICT integrator Adicom Group and Kramer to deliver integrated teaching experiences for students studying at home and at three campuses.
Operating from multiple buildings scattered throughout the Insubria region (which extends from the city of Milan to the Swiss border), the university has always relied on audio-video communication tools. Previously, meetings and distance learning could be handled with systems such as Polycom but with the arrival of a large number of users due to the Covid-19 pandemic, demand rose from 12 simultaneous connections to over 250 which placed intolerable demand on the existing infrastructure.
A solution for all eventualities
To solve this problem, and to future-proof against any eventualities, Kramer was selected for the Insubria learning spaces retrofit, impacting 25 classrooms, 5 lecture halls and 10 mobile studios (used for recording lectures).
Citing value for money among crucial factors in the deicion to go with Kramer, the university’s existing analogue system was replaced in a project that required re-wiring with digital cabling to support HDBaseT – a commercial connectivity standard for transmission of uncompressed ultra-high-definition video, digital audio, DC power, Ethernet, USB 2 and other control communication.
To deliver seamless control of all technologies, and harmonised communications to those studying remotely, a Kramer VS-62DT 6×8 matrix switcher was installed and connected to all classrooms. The model provides 6 HDMI inputs that can be routed to HDMI or HDBaseT outputs, providing long-reach video (up to [email protected]) and audio transmissions, for a best in class, more engaging experience.
As the university specified HDBaseT transmission for all projectors, HDR transmitters were also installed, with HDMI output additionally being made available to support re-broadcasting from classrooms with multiple projectors. Two Kramer VM-2DT and four Kramer VM-4HDT [email protected] HDB long-reach extenders were chosen, with dedicated HDBaseT lines addressed to the projectors.
Consistent user experience
Compact, eight-button control keypads were selected for the system to provide a consistent user experience for lecturers regardless of the room they are in, with a simple and immediately familiar control dashboard always at their disposal.
Our critical points were the lack of integration between new technologies and existing platforms – Teams, for example, made it difficult for remote learners to interact transparently
Luca Mondini, Front and Back Office Service and User Support Officer at the university, says: “Our critical points were the lack of integration between new technologies and existing platforms – Teams, for example, made it difficult for remote learners to interact transparently, and it was difficult for the teacher and students to hear each other intelligibly.
“Just as important was ease of use to facilitate adoption, and ensure the technology wouldn’t become a burden on lecturers.
“We connected all equipment with their respective management systems to dedicated VLANs before building a centralised server where we inputted Kramer’s solutions for programming the matrices and keypads.
“The solution works exactly as it was supposed to, and I can control everything from one place.”
The new AV equipment also supports the university’s desire to return students to campus.
One of the main advantages of being properly hybrid-equipped is that the university has not experienced a decline in the number of enrolments, or increased dropouts,
“At the moment, we’re experiencing a turnaround; 99% in-person and 1% remote though students still want the ability to follow classes remotely”, Mondini explains. “One of the main advantages of being properly hybrid-equipped is that the university has not experienced a decline in the number of enrolments, or increased dropouts, due to students’ inability to continue studying remotely. Instead, we’re now able to ensure that lessons are always delivered with the same degree of involvement, regardless of where the students are.”
Andrea Fincato, AVC Project Manager for Adicom Group, adds: “The goal was to give teachers the opportunity, respecting their different ways of working, to use all devices: room camera, desktop camera, laptop camera.
“In short, everything needed to provide an AV system that fits their habits so that they can teach hybrid classes.”
Over the next five years, the university plans to progress towards a goal of achieving 100% coverage for the system, completing a new auditorium and upgrading 10 additional classrooms every year.
At a glance:
Customer: University of Insubria, Italy
System Integrator: Adicom Group
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